Abu Dhabi Investment Authority eyes up prime London hotels

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia) could be checking into London’s top hotels after expressing interest in buying shares in the company that owns Claridge’s, the Berkeley and the Connaught.

Ownership of the five-star properties have been the subject of speculation for years, as potential bidders, including some from the Middle East, have come and gone.

But Adia has put down an offer of £1.6 billion (Dh9.04bn) for the hotels in London’s affluent West End, according to reports in the British press.

That would equate to about £3 million per room, a big sum even for prime properties in one of the richest parts of the world.

An Adia spokesman declined to comment on the reports, but a person familiar with the matter said that Adia had written to the current shareholders of the holding company for the three properties in the past couple of weeks, expressing an interest in acquiring them, and is awaiting a response.

Ownership of the glittering assets is complicated. The holding company Coroin controls the Maybourne Hotel Group, which operates the hotels, and is majority owned by the Irish property tycoons Derek Quinlan and Patrick McKillen.

Although Mr Quinlan on paper controls the properties via his two-thirds stake in Maybourne, in fact his shares are legitimately controlled by Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the entrepreneurial twins who also own the Telegraph media empire and other high-profile assets.

The twins have backed Mr Quinlan in a four-year legal struggle against Mr McKillen for control of the hotels.

The person familiar with the matter said: “There are a lot of moving parts here, and controversy among existing shareholders. An outside influence might just be able to fix the matter once and for all.”

Adia already owns considerable hotels assets in the UK, such as the London Lanesborough and a chain of Marriott-managed properties bought from Royal Bank of Scotland. It also owns three hotels under the Edition brand in London, New York and Miami.

Last year Al Habtoor Group was in detailed negotiations to buy the three Maybourne hotels. Khalaf Al Habtoor, the group chairman, eventually pulled out of the talks, accusing the Barclays of “wasting my time”.

There was speculation in London that the Adia interest could spark a bidding war among other Middle East investors keen to own such prime real estate.


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